The Day of Goodwill is a South African holiday that allows many people to give back to society after the Christmas holiday.
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Prior to 1994, this holiday was known as Boxing Day. The Day of Goodwill is celebrated on December 26. It is the third public holiday that is celebrated in the month of December. Unlike many of South Africa’s other holidays, the Day of Goodwill is a simple holiday for compassion and relaxation. There are only a few festivals and public events that are celebrated on December 26 in South Africa.
In 1994, South Africa’s new government replaced Boxing Day with the Day of Goodwill. While the holiday’s traditions did not change, the change was quite symbolic. Many South African officials viewed the creation of the Day of Goodwill as an indicator that South Africa was finally independent.
A Brief History of Colonial South Africa
Portuguese traders were the first Europeans to make contact with the indigenous people of South Africa. After the rest of Europe learned about the rich resources of South Africa, the Dutch government sent a military force and several trading companies to establish a colony. Once the British government learned that their Dutch rivals could benefit from South Africa’s resources, the British military was dispatched to South Africa. This resulted in a series of battles over the course of many years. Eventually, the British military emerged victorious. The British colony in South Africa emerged as one of the most influential powers on the entire African continent.
During the colonial power struggles between the British and the Dutch, property and labour were seized from South Africa’s indigenous people. Unfortunately, these extractive institutions carried over to the modern South African government’s policy of apartheid. When apartheid finally ended when Nelson Mandela’s government took over in 1994, many South Africans felt that they were finally free from British institutions. To celebrate this milestone, Britain’s Boxing Day was replaced with the day of Goodwill.
A Day of Giving to Others
Many South Africans celebrate the Day of Goodwill by donating some of their belongings to less fortunate members of society. Since the Day of Goodwill occurs immediately after Christmas Day, many people give leftover food, drinks, and luxury items. Some people also host meals for the poor and homeless. These traditions of generosity ensure that the Day of Goodwill is a holiday of compassion and friendship.
Although the main purpose of the Day of Goodwill is to fulfill the needs of others, the holiday is also a time to enjoy the beautiful summer weather of South Africa. After serving the needs of the poor, many South African citizens will go to a beach with their friends and family members. Small parties and dinners are also common in the evening of December 26. The specific events of the Day of Goodwill are determined by family traditions, so this holiday can be celebrated in an infinite number of ways.
The Day of Goodwill is a joyous celebration that allows people to forget some of the materialistic aspects of modern holidays. It is simply a time to help others while enjoying the company of loved ones.